In my review of the Ancient Aliens episode about islands, I suggested in jest that they would start doing an entire series about geographical features. I said, and I quote, “We can look forward next season, I suppose, to ‘Aliens and Mountains,’ ‘Aliens and Really Tall Trees,’ or ‘Aliens and Pleasant Lakes.’” Ha! I was wrong. We didn’t have to wait that long. Just two episodes later we get Ancient Aliens S06E11 “Aliens and Mysterious Mountains.” Apparently the show failed to meet even my lowest expectations.
We open in Nepal in 2007 to look at the ancient sky caves of Mustang, the subject of a National Geographic article last year. Robert Schoch tells us that they are so old that no one knows who built them, but they obviously are not all that old since they contain Buddhist texts and art. The show basically reads us the National Geographic article, almost word for word, testifying to the depth of their research.
Andrew Collins tells us that mountains are the closest point to the sky and thus the best place to communicate with the gods. This may be true in a spiritual sense, but any alien that could cross the gulfs of space could also make the trip to ground level. Besides, have we not already heard that aliens live on islands, underground, and beneath the sea? The whole earth is lousy with aliens, except, of course, wherever we happen to look for them.
This leads us to Mt. Olympus in Greece, the home of the Greek pantheon, and David Wilcock asserts the peak had special powers that led the Greeks to believe real gods lived atop it. Interestingly, Skeptical Inquirer reported in its January/February 2014 edition that Wilcock travels with a security detail from Black Ops Corp. and at the Contact in the Desert conference in July used his security guards to seal the exits during his speech, arousing protest from fellow pundit William Henry, who got into a screaming fit over false imprisonment. This is much more interesting than Wilcock’s dumb ideas about Mt. Olympus. Henry calls that Greek gods “huge sky beings” who descended from the sky. This would be news to Aphrodite, who rose up from the sea; or Athena, who emerged from the head of Zeus; or Artemis and Apollo, who were born on Delos. David Childress asserts, falsely, that the discovery of Troy and the ruins of Delphi showed “archaeologists” and “historians” that Greek myths were true. The existence of the city does not prove the stories told of it any more than the existence of New York City proves the existence of Spider-Man.
We listen to a retelling of the battle between the Gods and the Titans, with footage recycled from Clash of the Gods, an earlier History Channel series with a Christian conservative subtext. Giorgio Tsoukalos states that references to gold and jewels on Olympus are really the buttons and blinking lights of a spaceship, because: Star Trek. The aliens are still stuck with 1960s sci-fi decor in the ancient astronaut imagination. He claims that the Gods and the Titans engaged in “all-out war” from their mutual military bases on Olympus and Oryths, neither of which retains any evidence of these alleged battles. I guess they used their disintegrator rays. Of course, if you take the Titanomachy literally, the defeated aliens are now waiting in cages under the earth, where we ought to be able to find these “underground aliens.”
After this, we move forward to China to discuss Taoism. We listen to discussion of the sacred mountain of Taoism and see some pretty footage because, apparently, this show is a travelogue rather than a documentary in any real sense. We hear the same old stories about magic powers, this time about Xuan Wu (Zhenwu), a Chinese god whom the show tries to suggest had a historical existence. Tsoukalos is taken by the suggestion that he returned to the sky on a dragon, which animal Tsoukalos states “never existed” but was in fact a misunderstood aircraft. Oddly enough, this is not the oldest version of the story. That version said that Xuan Wu retired to a monastery (another has his intestines merge with the earth), but it may be a rationalization of a still older tale since Xuan Wu shares his name with the Black Tortoise, the constellation of the north—and, if anyone on this show cared, this would be better evidence for an “alien” or stellar connection than Taoist meditation is. I can’t find a dragon myth associated with Xuan Wu in standard Chinese mythology sources, but a late text from 1415 CE states that he “drives a flying dragon,” according to Noelle Giuffrida, but this may be conflation with the Yisheng, a deity known to drive a dragon vehicle, and who served with Xuan Wu among the Four Saints.
Next we travel to Taticev Karmen in Macedonia and the far-off year of 2001, where archaeologists discovered a 4,000-year-old observatory, which Collins says “has been recognized by NASA as one of the most impressive” observatories “of its kind,” whatever that is supposed to mean. NASA does not designate archaeological sites or rank them by their majesty. In truth, the Kokino megalithic observatory is a natural rock outcropping that has been modified by Neolithic humans to mark the solstices, the equinoxes, and the path of the moon. NASA listed it in a 2005 web list of ancient observatories, where they called it the fourth oldest in the world. It was not an official investigation into ancient astronomy, and no one from NASA has ever visited the site, according to the Bradt guide to Macedonia (fourth ed., 2012). Childress calls the site “advanced” knowledge and wonders how anyone could have marked the path of the moon by so bizarre a method as “looking up at the sky.”
Collins claims Angkor is also one of the oldest observatories, even though it is medieval in date.
For no good reason this leads to a claim that the Nebra Sky Disk contains a depiction of the Pleiades, which they also see at Kokino. This confuses me because I see many references in amateur websites to a single rock that allegedly marks the position of the Pleiades there, but a 2009 academic article about the archaeoastronomy of the site does not discuss any such alignment. In fact, this other academic article argues that the original builders of the site targeted Aldebaran, not the Pleiades, in order to mark the equinox, and the Pleiades, by virtue of appearing “above” Aldebaran were therefore something of a secondary target.
Tsoukalos suggests that the Kokino stone carvings, which are conventionally called “thrones,” although they are basically just roughly modified geometric forms, are the “exact same” shape as geometrically carved stones as Sacsayhuaman in Peru, in Greece, in Italy, and elsewhere. I don’t think that squares and rectangles are too far beyond human imagination, and there are only so many shapes for symbolic chairs, if chairs they be. The show fails to note that the Kokino site originated in a natural formation.
At the halfway point, we’re off to the Andes in 2009 to watch a procession of traditional Incan festival activity, performed today under a Catholic façade. Called the Qoyllur Rit’i (Snow Star Pilgrimage), the procession marks the disappearance of the Pleiades for 45 days before the winter solstice, a calendar marker signaling the coming of the solstice. This isn’t enough for Ancient Aliens, which wants us to believe (though they won’t say) that the aliens came from the Pleiades. Robert Schoch seems to understand that the star festival had to do with the agricultural cycle and the calendar, but the narrator will have none of it. He asks if the presiding spirits of the festival, the apus, were aliens, and David Wilcock suggests that UFO exhaust fumes made the ice of the nearby mountain into a magical panacea and therefore fitting for a festival.
Back in China we look at Mount Tai and hear how a cloud and a light beam told in a myth about the mountain meant that UFOs hovered over the mountain and guided Chinese leaders for centuries—because Chinese people, I guess, are strange and exotic and of course take their orders from a hidden cabal of aliens. Why else would they be communist? You don’t hear much about British or American leaders taking orders from aliens; in fact, when Ancient Aliens tried to make the case for aliens in colonial America, they had the Founders working on equal terms with the aliens, and, later, they had the British monarchs as the beloved bloodline descendants of the aliens. Even the Japanese emperors were given bloodline status. Somehow, though, the Chinese are comparatively weak-willed and under the aliens’ thrall.
Mountain myths from Japan follow after the break, focusing on evil bird-demons. These the show compares to bird-gods and bird-men from around the world, and Childress says that the wings are symbolic of spaceships. That symbolism is allowed, but the idea of wings symbolizing anything else is just silly. Tsoukalos relates this to the Anunnaki, whom he fails to understand are not the same as the griffin-demons shown on the screen and to which he actually refers. These were a whole different set of Mesopotamian beings; the Anunnaki were not winged in the surviving references to them. Tsoukalos also lies about “Sumerian” mythology claiming that Anunnaki will return; this is a Sitchin invention and has no basis in actual texts, since the Anunnaki, being creatures of the sky and the earth, are always here.
Tsoukalos says that they escaped to the mountains to escape detection, but why? If they are a ruling master race, they don’t need to hide. Worse, whom are they hiding from since they were intimately involved with us down to the Middle Ages and beyond, if we take the show at its word? Are they only hiding from post-Enlightenment rationalists? If they are still coming to shamans, and tribal peoples, and even rural Americans, do they simply hate upper class urbanites?
Kathleen McGowan Coppens, who believes she is the lineal descendant of Jesus, tries to tell us that pyramids the world over are all the same because they get smaller as they get higher, which I guess is something that only Grandpa Jesus or his alien friends could have told ancient people to do. The on-screen graphics show spaceships docking on pyramids the way zeppelins were supposed to dock atop the Empire State Building.
I am so bored that I don’t care that William Henry is repeating Philip Coppens’s lie that the Egyptians claimed that the gods delivered the plans for the pyramids, something unsupported in any ancient Egyptian inscription or papyrus.
This leads us to UFO sightings around mountains in an attempt to suggest that the aliens are still coming and going today. The show asks us if mountains contain alien bases, referencing the claims for a buried alien outpost in Bugarach, France during the New Age 2012 Apocalypse crisis when thousands though a UFO in the mountain would save them from the destruction of the earth. As I discussed last year, this story about an “alien base” in the mountain descends from the ancient myth of the Sleeping King, which in turn derives from an Indo-European myth associated with Odin and can also be seen in the story of Zalmoxis and the supernatural underground palace. It’s about death, resurrection, and immortality. Heck, Bugarach wasn’t even the only European mountain to localize the alien version of the story last year!
We finish with Kathleen McGowan Coppens citing a book “that came out in the 1890s”--A Dweller on Two Planets by Frederick Spencer Oliver, a Theosophy-inspired Atlantis text—as proof that aliens lived beneath California’s Mt. Shasta from ancient times:
What secrets perchance are about us? We do not know as we lie there, our bodies resting, our souls filled with peace, nor do we know until many years are passed out through the back door of time that that tall basalt cliff conceals a doorway. We do not suspect this, nor that a long tunnel stretches away, far into the interior of majestic Shasta. Wholly unthought is it that there lie at the tunnel's far end vast apartments, the home of a mystic brotherhood, whose occult arts hollowed that tunnel and mysterious dwelling: "Sach" the name is. Are you incredulous as to these things? Go there, or suffer yourself to be taken as I was, once! See, as I saw, not with the vision of flesh, the walls, polished as by jewelers, though excavated as by giants; floors carpeted with long, fleecy gray fabric that looked like fur, but was a mineral product; ledges intersected by the builders, and in their wonderful polish exhibiting veinings of gold, of silver, of green copper ores, and maculations of precious stones. Verily, a mystic temple, made afar from the madding crowd, a refuge whereof those who, "Seeing, see not," can truly say:
The book, in case you care, identified America as the modern Atlantis and inspired the Lemurian Fellowship, which “educated” David Childress about ancient mysteries back in the late 1970s or early 1980s. Childress instead tells us that humans are “instinctively” drawn to mountains to find “extraterrestrial gods” who have “always” been there.
As always, despite the fact that most of the mountains profiled are open to the public, no ancient astronaut theorists went up even one of them to go find the artifacts, secret bases, or hidden aliens they claim are right there waiting for us.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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